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Thursday, October 23, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 42.0° F  Fair
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Madison chronic drunk ordinance up for review
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Verveer takes a wait-and-see attitude on the 'habitually intoxicated' list.
Verveer takes a wait-and-see attitude on the 'habitually intoxicated' list.

It's been a year since Madison began enforcing a no-sell list for "habitually intoxicated persons," and the results are mixed.

Seventeen people were initially banned from buying alcohol, says Mark Woulf, Madison's alcohol policy coordinator. It looks like it will grow to about 30 next year.

To get on the list, you have to rack up six criminal convictions - in which alcohol played a role - within 180 days of each other. To get off the list, you have to stay out of trouble for a year. Those on the list have their names, pictures and descriptions distributed to stores that sell alcohol, which face penalties for selling to the banned people (the banned people face no penalties).

With only two people likely to come off the list - meaning the others have continued to have alcohol-related run-ins with the law - Woulf admits banned individuals are continuing to get booze. He worries the list will keep growing.

"I don't want, in two years from now, to have to implement a list with 70 people," he says. "It will be increasingly difficult to keep track of those people."

But Woulf also sees evidence the list is doing good and isn't ready to throw in the towel on the law. "I've heard positive feedback from smaller retailers who were dealing with chronic alcoholics. They've said it's helped them say no," he says. "We've heard of one instance of a person on the list going through treatment. In that sense, it's been positive."

Ald. Mike Verveer, who sits on the Alcohol License Review Committee, says he has mixed feelings about the law, but takes a wait-and-see attitude about it.

"I don't think one year has been enough of an experience," he says. "It's not as if we're experiencing a unified cry to repeal the ordinance."

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